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The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

Five lesser-known, on-campus study spots at SFSU

Visit one of these places if you’d like to study someplace new
Neal Wong
Tatihn Mellieon, Steve Dickinson, and Thomas Ziemer pose for a photo in the Poetry Center reading room on April 10, 2024. (Neal Wong / Golden Gate Xpress)

Hypothetically, you’re a student who studies. Hypothetically, you’ve decided to set up shop where you normally sit and there happens to be a gassy student farting like bagpipes in one of the designated quiet spaces, with the odor just obliterating your focus. Or, hypothetically, you just can’t find a comfortable place to sit in the entirety of the J. Paul Leonard Library’s five floors and all of the study rooms are reserved for the day because of midterms or finals or whatever the heck is happening.

The next time you’re in dire need of a haven of solitude for studying, consider retreating to one of these spaces on campus for peace and quiet.

Holistic Health Learning Center

Students sit in the Holistic Health Learning Center on Feb. 8, 2024. (Neal Wong / Golden Gate Xpress) (Neal Wong)

Books available for purchase frame the entrance of this room along with couches, rugs and cozy lighting.

“We have free tea,” said Jennifer Daubenmier, an associate professor of holistic health studies. “Students can come and sit in a couch or lounge in a chair, relax a little bit, destress from the hubbub, meet some new friends and have community.”

According to Daubenmier, the center was started about 30 years ago by faculty member Ken Burrows.

“He was really the early pioneer in creating this kind of community space,” she said. “It’s been part of the holistic health studies program… it’s been a site for holistic health students to gather, especially for the internship class where they create action projects.”

The center also contains books.

“We have books from all over the world from different traditions with all different perspectives, on all aspects of health and healing — from physical to emotional, emotional, psychological, spiritual,” Daubenmier said. “We have nutrition, we have plant medicine, cannabis, raw food, vegan diet… books on everything and how everything relates kind of back to health and healing.”

HSS Building room 329

Monday, 11 a.m. to noon, 2-5 p.m.
Tuesday, 2-5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, 11 a.m. to noon
Thursday, 3:15-5:30 p.m.

Cahill Learning Resources and Media Lab

Students use the Cahill Lab on Feb. 6, 2024. (Neal Wong / Golden Gate Xpress) (Neal Wong)

The Cahill Learning Resources and Media Lab is commonly referred to as the Cahill Lab.

“It’s a donor-funded space where we provide resources for all our students in the Graduate College of Education,” said Nolan Muna, the lab’s coordinator and a web specialist for the college. “It’s open to all students. The resources that are in the lab are mainly geared towards our students — Graduate College of Education students.”

Teaching certification test prep books and K-12 textbooks are available in the Cahill Lab. According to Muna, only GCOE students can check out materials, but all students are allowed to use the materials and resources within the room, including the computers.

“It’s a full study space,” Muna said. “Feel free to come in anytime we’re open.”

Burk Hall room 319

Monday to Thursday, noon to 5 p.m.

Sutro Library

Inside the Sutro Library on Feb. 8, 2024. (Neal Wong / Golden Gate Xpress) (Neal Wong)

The Sutro Library is lined with tables and chairs and has views of the quad. It’s even quieter than the study spaces in the J. Paul Leonard Library.

“It’s a special collection and archive collected by [Adolph] Sutro, who was the mayor of San Francisco,” said Diana Kohnke, a librarian. “It’s open to all students. It’s a public library — we’re not part of the university, we’re a part of the California State Library.”

Kohnke also said that the library has rare books and antiquary maps.

According to the California State Library website, “The library has a large collection of publications and items dating from the 13th to the 21st centuries, as well as one of the largest genealogy collections in the U.S.

Adolph Sutro’s heirs donated his collection to the California State Library in 1913 with the requirement that the collection stay within the city of San Francisco. After operating in various locations for nearly a century, the Sutro Library moved to a permanent home at San Francisco State University in 2012.”

Sutro Library

Tuesday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Poetry Center Reading Room

Steve Dickinson, director of the Poetry Center, looks through books in the center’s reading room on Feb. 6, 2024. (Neal Wong / Golden Gate Xpress) (Neal Wong)

In a corner of the Humanities Building, you’ll find the Poetry Center reading room, which has chairs and tables.

Steve Dickinson, the director of the center, says the center is a non-lending library.

“Students can come here and use the books, but the books should stay in the room,” Dickinson said. “We have something like 7,000 individual volumes of poetry.”

Thomas Ziemer is an English literature student and an intern at the Poetry Center.

“I think maybe four or five years ago, just looking up videos of some poets whose work I admired, I found YouTube videos from the Poetry Center,” Ziemer said. “The Poetry Center was a big reason that I ended up coming to San Francisco State.”

Ziemer said he knew of Dickinson’s work as a poet and of the center as a resource, which drew him to the university.

“There’s a ton of great books by lots of different people, lots of different movements,” Ziemer said. “You can come in here and read a book when you want to get some joy out of the poems, which I think can endlessly bring joy.”

Humanities Building room 512

Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Leo V. Young Library and Reading Room

Nyla Sanders sits in the Leo V. Young Library and Reading Room on April 10, 2024. (Neal Wong / Golden Gate Xpress) (Neal Wong)

According to a plaque on the door, the room is named for the journalism department’s founder and first chairman. The books inside are mostly about the media and journalism industries.

“It holds books that we’ve collected in the department over the years. They’re available for student use and consumption in the room itself,” said Jesse Garnier, the chair of the journalism department.

“This is open to all students to come and use the room,” Garnier said. “Anything brought out of the room needs permission from the journalism office.”

Nyla Sanders is a communications studies student and has used the space since Fall 2023.

“I like how quiet it is in here,” said Sanders, who is also a student assistant for the journalism department. “I can do my homework or work on my work tasks, and that there’s a bunch of snacks I can snack on if I haven’t eaten breakfast or any lunch.”

“Myself and Amber Wehrer, who runs the office, supply those snacks for anyone on campus to enjoy,” Garnier said. “We are spending out of our pockets to support and help students and give them a little lift when they’re hanging around here studying. We are still state employees with limited budgets and sometimes we want to help more than we have funds available to, but hey, we try to keep the table stocked with all kinds of interesting and fun items, so feel free to stop by and have one. And enjoy it and keep studying.”

Humanities Building room 303

Monday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tuesday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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About the Contributor
Neal Wong
Neal Wong, Co-Copy Editor
Neal Wong (he/him) is a third-year journalism student and minoring in urban studies and planning. He was born and raised in San Francisco and attended Washington High School. He has photographed and written for Golden Gate Xpress first as a contributor, then as a photographer, and now as a copy editor. His photos have also been published by the San Francisco Bay ViewSan Francisco Public Press, Mission Local, and Xpress Magazine. Neal has also created and taught four SFSU Experimental College courses. His hobbies include traveling, cooking, and reading.

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